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Ethan Senack
Ethan Senack is the federal Higher Education Advocate for U.S. PIRG. He works in Washington, D.C., on behalf of students on college affordability and accessibility.

As a student, Mr. Senack organized on his college to run voter registration drives, advocate for increased state funding for higher education, and end the use of carcinogenic pesticides on campus. After graduation and the 2012 election, he joined U.S. PIRG staff, working in campaign offices around the country. With PIRG, he is fighting for textbook affordability at schools around the country, lobbying to help keep student loan debt manageable in Congress, and protecting student consumers.

Mr. Senack is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where he studied Political Science and Sociology.

Entries by Ethan Senack

eTextbooks vs Open Textbooks: The Student Lens

(1) Comments | Posted November 12, 2015 | 3:42 PM

This article was written with the help of Robert Goldburg.

Textbook prices have skyrocketed in the last decade. Since 1978, textbook prices have increased 945%. That's not a typo - textbook prices have increased at almost 4 times the rate of inflation.

As many students have already experienced, publishers...

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This 500-Person Town is Leading on Education

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2015 | 3:39 PM


Today, Education Secretary Duncan visits the tiny town of Williamsfield, Illinois. If you haven't heard of it, that's ok - the total population is only around 500-600 people.

I've written previously about open educational resources (openly-licensed, free online materials) and their impact...

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Textbooks Cost a Lot. Here's Why.

(3) Comments | Posted August 31, 2015 | 2:29 PM

It's the start of the fall semester. Fee bills are paid, trips to Target and Wal-Mart are underway, and everyone is stocking up on school supplies.

At the same time, students are already taking to Twitter to worry about the impending bank-account-draining purchase of textbooks.

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A Treasure Trove of Knowledge for the White House to Unlock

(0) Comments | Posted August 4, 2015 | 1:16 PM

Every year, the federal government gives away billions of dollars in grants -- through dozens of agencies and hundreds of programs as diverse as learning innovation grants and urban housing development grants.

Throughout the course of these grants, recipients develop thousands of materials: on the complex side, teaching guides and...

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Why McGraw-Hill Is Offering $100 for Your #usedtextbookproblems

(0) Comments | Posted June 4, 2015 | 3:36 PM


"Someone highlighted the entire chapter... #usedtextbookproblems ----> Share yours for a chance to win $100!"

That's what college textbook publisher McGraw-Hill's twitter account has been blasting out to their followers the past few days.

Anyone even remotely exposed to higher education in...

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The Real March Madness: Slashing Student Aid

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 2:11 PM

Last week Republicans in Congress released a budget proposal that includes about $150 billion in cuts to student financial aid.

In contrast, looking back, government funding to make higher education accessible has always risen above partisan politics.

In 1965 the first Higher Education Act passed with 82 percent of...

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We Could Save Students a Billion Dollars on Textbooks

(5) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 9:18 AM


Twice a year, college students trek to their college bookstore or open up tab after tab on the Internet, desperately searching for a cheaper alternative to the $200 textbook assigned for their class.

Textbook prices are simply out of control. They have increased...

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4 Back-to-School Myths About College Textbooks

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2014 | 1:21 PM

As students and families begin the school year, let's take a second to dispel some myths about college textbooks.

Before we debunk some myths around college textbooks, there's one definition you'll need to know: Open-source textbooks (open textbooks) are faculty-written, peer-reviewed textbooks just like traditional textbooks, except that they're published...

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In Support of Senator Warren and Student Loan Refinancing

(1) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 1:13 PM

At $1.2 trillion (that's more than credit card or auto loan debt), student loan debt is one of the biggest issues of our day.

We know students and families across generations are struggling with their debt -- unable to afford their full payment, missing payments, or worse: dropping...

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Student Loans Got You Down? 5 Tips to Make Them More Affordable

(1) Comments | Posted January 8, 2014 | 5:26 PM

Dealing with students loans can be stressful -- even overwhelming. Here are a few tips to minimizing how much you pay and keeping your debt manageable.

If you're still taking out loans:

1. Max out federal loans before using any private loans.

Federal loans offer significantly more consumer-friendly terms than...

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Watchdogging Private Student Loan Companies

(1) Comments | Posted October 24, 2013 | 10:45 AM

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's public complaints database levels the playing field for private student loan borrowers -- giving aggrieved private student borrowers true negotiating strength in a financial marketplace that is tilted toward banks.

Student and consumer advocates knew this in theory when we supported the creation of...

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Student Loan Forgiveness: Available for Many, Used by Few

(3) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 11:31 AM

A few weeks ago, I went on HuffPost Live to talk about current student loan forgiveness programs and the stunning lack of public knowledge about them.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a report showing that more than one-quarter of America's workforce -- more...

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Protect Student Consumers on Campus

(0) Comments | Posted October 7, 2013 | 1:15 PM

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau held a "Banking on Campus Forum" to discuss financial products and services offered to college students on campuses across the country. The issue at hand: campus debit cards.

In recent years, we've seen a major spike in deals that allow financial service providers...

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Back to School, Back to Sky-High Textbook Prices

(2) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 4:05 PM

It's that time of year again. Students and families are packing up their cars and heading off in pursuit of higher education.

Here's some advice from a former college student: Visit the college bookstore before your parents leave.

Every college student knows what it's like to walk into the...

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Students to Congress: Don't Double Our Rates

(0) Comments | Posted March 15, 2013 | 3:30 PM

Earlier this week, the Education and Workforce Committee in the U.S. House held a hearing to purportedly "strengthen" the federal student loan program. Sadly, the proposals put forth by leaders in the hearing do anything but help solve the problem of high cost federal student loans. At best, they would...

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